Write a carefully-argued, well-structured essay comparing the setting of Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” to Ursula LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”
BE ANALYTICAL: ask yourself what is the significance of the details you are describing. Make sure that you have an argument–i.e., ask yourself what you are attempting to demonstrate–and make sure that the details you cite support that argument.
This assignment requires you to compare the two short stories. Comparison means a consideration of similarities and/or differences, and your thesis should present a significant ground for comparison. That is, the paper should make clear to your reader why it is illuminating to compare / contrast the novels in such a way.
You are not required to research or reference secondary sources (in fact I would prefer that you avoid them). I am interested in your reading and analysis of the text. Remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” interpretations–only well-argued and poorly argued ones.
Avoid extensive repetition of the class discussion.
The essay should be approximately 1250 words (4 pages) and should follow the conventions for format and citation found in the most recent MLA Handbook (see lecture notes) .
Late papers will be penalized 5% per day.
A few hints to get you started.
As we discussed in class: Thesis formula – Author/Story A and B does X in order to (or because of) Y, where X is what you think the topic does/represents in the story, and Y is the significance or value, the “so what?” usually linking to the theme or purpose of the poem. Also, a good idea to replace the verb “does” in the formula
Choose a number of passages that exemplify what you want to argue, provide an analysis of those passages in your essay
Theme – A salient abstract idea that emerges from a literary work’s treatment of its subject-matter; or a topic recurring in a number of literary works. While the subject of a work is described concretely in terms of its action (e.g. ‘the adventures of a newcomer in the big city’), its theme or themes will be described in more abstract terms (e.g. love, war, revenge, betrayal, fate, etc.). The theme of a work may be announced explicitly, but more often it emerges indirectly through the recurrence of motifs
Stylistic Devices: techniques of language (figures of speech) used to dramatize a message or convey meaning. Some examples:
irony: the use of words to suggest the opposite of their usual sense
analogy: a comparison of similar traits between dissimilar things. Two main forms — a) simile: a direct comparison between otherwise unrelated things, using the word like or as; b) metaphor: a comparison between otherwise unrelated things without using like or as.
personification: the assignment of a human trait to a non-human thing
Symbolism: a word, image or idea that represents something more than what it at first appears to stand for, extends meaning.
Imagery: a verbal representation of a sense impression — often clustered or patterned in a work; the descriptive effect of language. Identification helps define the meaning or emotional content of a work.
Tone/Mood: the attitude of the author toward the subject of the work expressed through setting, the choice of words, the imagery.
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